Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Music Albums of 2023

Picture of the band Sleep Token taken by Artemis Sere

Artemis Sere's Best Music Albums of 2023

This list is not genre or market specific. This list reflects the diversity of my interests. This list is not based on listening to any radio, podcasts, or influencer pundits. My appreciation for music is relatively broad, but you'll find a heavier edge to recent lists - reflective of the seasons of my life.

This list is my 13th attempt to catalog, track, and recommend the best music of the previous year.  If you're interested in what I've ranked in previous years, check out this page where all years are available.

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, and pay forward these suggestions of high quality, relatively underrated music and musicians. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, linked at the end of this list. 

And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2023?

I appreciate your interest in my Art and music opinion. Enjoy!

NOTE: I reserve the right to revise this list as necessary. I know I've probably missed some great albums in 2023, and will be sure to update this list to accommodate those next year - as I have done and will do with lists from previous years. Check back for updates!

#yearofEchoes

Update 12/14/23: Added Cannons - "Heartbeat Highway"; moved Old Gods of Asgard - "Rebirth" to Honorable Mention

Update 12/28/23: After listening to the EP "The Forgotten", moved Orbit Culture to #3 position of 2023.

20

Holy Wars Cult Classic

At 4 songs and clocking in around 10 minutes, their new EP is strong on composition and style, with impressive art and smart packaging, but short on substance. If they would've took the gas off the EP and pushed more songs into it, it would've been a Top 2024 release. Instead, it's an EP that shows their potential. I believe Kat Leon will be the next big thing in rock music, but I'm a bit disappointed that "Cult Classic" takes the focus off of the truly great album they released last year, "EAT IT UP, SPIT IT OUT". 

19

Cannons Heartbeat Highway

You have to love the ethereal, dreamy, electropop sound of Cannons. Led by the seraphic Michelle Joy, this three piece from California knows how to lay down a slow, soulful jam. One of two bands on this list that put out albums in back-to-back years, I didn't love this album as much as last year's "Fever Dream", but vibing with Cannons is always a chill, 1970-esque ride.

18

Missio I Am Sad EP & I Am High EP

These EPs are classic Missio - electronica fused with rap, dub, and other genres. "I Am Sad" EP is a journey through depressed sounds and tones, as sad as "pop rock synth pop" can be; "I Am High" EP sounds more what I have come to expect from Missio - a trippy synthetic experience which sounds like (and is) influenced by smoking marijuana.

17

Unearth The Wretched; the Ruinous

Admittedly, I haven't kept up with Unearth since their second studio album, 2004's "The Oncoming Storm". I reconnected with them on this, their 8th album, and was impressed by their consistent sound and power. But, if I have to compare them to other metalcore bands like Parkway Drive or Suicide Silence or Trivium or Bleed From Within, they don't differentiate well. That aside, this album is far from wretched.

16

Delerium Signs

Delerium is the ambient electronic music side project of Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber, who are some of the godfathers of modern Industrial Music with their band Front Line Assembly. I will probably lose some kudos for admitting that I'm not a huge Front Line Assembly fan. But I am a huge Conjure One fan, which is also the side project of Rhys Fulber, and Delerium is rooted around the same dreamy concept that Conjure One brings to life. Delerium has been around since 1987 and this is their 16th release. It is a beautiful, atmospheric album that inspires me greatly.

15

Filter The Algorithm

I've been a fan of Filter since the "Hey Man, Nice Shot" days, and their last album, "Crazy Eyes", made it to #6 on my Best of 2016 list. This album may not rank as one of their best, but it's got solid heart and soul. Richard Patrick's sound is maturing with his age, yet he still manages to channel all that has been best with Filter over the years. There's definitely the signature edge to the album, but also great reminders that Filter just makes great electro rock music. A favorite line from song "Command Z": "I want to be high as fuck". I totally can relate to the vibe and message exuding from their algorithm.

14

Red Rated R

Red is my rare foray into Christian rock/metal. Preaching and positions aside, they make great music (and are amazing live). I've been a fan since their first radio success with "Breath Into Me" and even though my faith has diverged since then, I still think they make great music. "Surrogates" is one of the heaviest songs they've made in their decades-long history. It's addictive, infectious, and poignant: "Say what you will, anything for a kill". Every Red creation involves brilliant songwriting, and "Rated R" is filled with powerful, heartfelt rock tunes. They may not stand out as commercially as they once did, but they're still cranking out amazing, inspiring music with tight guitars and soaring vocals.

13

Within Temptation Bleed Out

 It is always a treasure to get new Within Temptation music. Sharon den Adel is one of my favorite vocalists in music right now, and seeing WT live at an intimate setting in 2022 was a true treat. "Bleed Out" has been called a "heavier" WT album, but I don't think it is much heavier than previous. If it's heavy anyplace, it's with the topics connected to the tunes. I applaud their stances against the war in Ukraine, and other injustices around the world. The song "Bleed Out" is signature Within Temptation and definitely ranks as one of their best (and the video is amazing). The art of the album is genius, and the production is tight. It is possible that this album will grow on me over the next year, and I'll adjust its ranking.

12

Solitaris Siwa

I discovered this band on the soundtrack to a favorite game that I played a couple of years ago, "Othercide". They are a metalcore band from Paris, France, with a vibe similar to both Gojira and Orbit Culture without the huge fanbase and exposure. They certainly deserve a wider appreciation, because this album is filled with brutal tracks that stand tall against any of the metal greats on this list.

11

Sevendust Truth Killer

 This album was in my Top 5 until recently. "Truth Killer" is one of Sevendust's most complete and powerful albums in their long history. I fell in love with this album quickly. The topics, the vocals, and the tones are perfectly Sevendust. "I Might Let the Devil Win" is a great reflection on whether or not we succumb to our lesser selves. "Everything" is one of my favorite tracks of 2023 and one of my favorites from Sevendust. The issue I have with the album is that it feels a bit too "preachy", with too many references to God and Religion. To me, all "truth" is subjective, so their intent to "kill" a certain kind of truth, or argue that a certain type of truth is currently under attack, is a mantra that is repeated too often by certain cults in this country. There is a lot of great music on "Truth Killer", but when I started to reflect on the lyrics, I didn't see myself reflected in the message. This would be a top 5 album on my list if the message in front of the music was different.

10

Grandson I Love You, I'm Trying

Grandson fell to Earth a bit with "I Love You, I'm Trying", though that's no slight to the rapper in any way. Seeing him live was one of my favorite experiences of 2023 and it drove me to give this album another try. This album is full of heart and positivity and honesty that I didn't fully connect with at first. He was my soundtrack to 2020 and 2021 and resonated with some of my darkest moments of the last 5 years. In truth, his angle on "I Love You, I'm Trying" is a breath of clear air. His close friendship and partnership with K. Flay has influenced my passion for him. On this album, he sounds a bit like an older school Eminem, and even though it doesn't have the hooks like "Death of an Optimist", it does paint a brighter picture of his persona and the messages he supports.

9

Health Rat Wars

Health is a fun band. From social presence to personality, they exude confidence, swagger, and sonic excellence. I'm relatively new to the Health catalog, having only discovered them last year. However, I became quickly addicted to their airy, dreamy industrial electrorock sound. You have to give them props - releasing two major albums in back-to-back years is a feat that few bands can achieve. On the flip side, I don't think this year's release is better than last year's, and can't rank them higher than last year's #8 spot with "Disco4: Part II". I personally enjoyed last year's album more, but I totally love what Health does on "Rat Wars". I've seen them classified as darkwave, synthmetal, and industrial metal. They're certainly the sum of all parts - one part NIN, one part Godflesh, one part emo, and lots of techno. If they're considered metal, then they should be a sound easy for anyone to swallow.

8

3Teeth EndEx

3Teeth is a very fun adventure into apocalyptic, hypnotic industrial metal. Sarcastic, futuristic, and brutally honest, "EndEx" is a seething soundscape featuring "DOOM" composer Mick Gordon and English horror rappers Ho99o9. They remind me of a "less metal" version of Fear Factory with a stronger opinion of what's shitty about our world. "EndEx" is filled with dark charisma and attitude, exuded perfectly on their cover of Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".

7

Bassnectar The Golden Rule: Part 1: Unlocked

The dubstepper in me just won't die. No matter how much metal I listen to, I still find myself gravitating back to Bassnectar for inspiration and levity. If you've followed Bassnectar, you know that he's struggled with an image issue over the last few years; evidently, he's been accused of doing some shady things with women. If any of that is true, it is certainly regrettable and deplorable. However, I do my best to separate the art from the artist. Bassnectar returns to vibrant form on "The Golden Rule" with collaborators Rye Rye, Gnar Gnar, Azzem, Dorfex Bos, and Ashel Seasunz among others.

6

IAMX Fault Lines 1

I will always be a champion and supporter of IAMX's Avant Garde style, message, and sound. Hands down, he is the most artistic musician on this list. "Fault Lines" took some time to grow on me, but I have come to appreciate its sexuality, mystery, and honesty. There are new IAMX classics on the album, and I would've ranked it higher if it met the highs of "Metanoia" or "Alive in New Light". It makes me supremely curious where he'll go with "Part 2", and how that complements this oily, edgy, technofunky trip. "Oh mirror, give me back my time."

5

Cyanotic The After Effect

If you've followed me for a while, you know I have a deep love and passion for the band Cyanotic, an industrial, angry robot industrial metal band from Chicago, IL. I know and respect their lead singer Sean Payne for his amazing talent, his ability to help coordinate major shows (Cold Waves music festival), and for being the main man behind a record label (Glitch Mode Music, Bit Riot Records). Earlier this year, Sean and his wife Anastasia were in a serious car accident in Minnesota, and she passed away from her injuries. Out of that extreme tragedy, this album was born. Songs like "Crash Override", "Are We Still Alive?", and "Anastasia Ascends" resound of Sean's agony and catharsis in sonic form. My one minor complaint is that I wish there was more content; given Cyanotic's catalog, the album feels a bit too quick at 8 songs - but at least this wasn't released as an EP with extras.

4

K. Flay MONO

I can't say enough good things about K.Flay and her new album. I thought highly enough of her last album that it made my Top 20; this one is stratospheric on my chart. I have become very addicted to it, mostly because of its raw emotion and show of awesome strength. Over the last few years, K.Flay lost hearing in her right ear, and the album is touching slice of her life, her struggles, and how she overcomes hearing challenges as a human, an artist, and a musician. It is personal, touching, and relatable, especially as someone who overcome his own health challenges and told the story (see "Obscurious X"). It is sarcastic, vulnerable, and touching. I've been a fan of K. Flay since I discovered her via Tom Morello's solo albums, and I'm so thankful that I did. Her personal power is inspiring and helps drive me these days.

3

Orbit Culture Descent & The Forgotten (EP)

I was excited about the "Descent" album when I first heard Orbit Culture last year. The "Vultures of North" single was a powerful foreshadow of the "Descent" album, and I collected and consumed everything that I could find from Orbit Culture in a short period of time. I was convinced at the time that the "Descent" album would be my favorite album of 2023. Perhaps I gorged myself on Orbit Culture too much, too fast, because when I sat down and listened to this album, I was energized by some very powerful tunes. But I also feel that the album suffers from a bit of repetition and few of the songs truly stand out. That isn't a statement to diminish the album altogether, because the general sound of "Descent" crushes.

Their EP, "The Forgotten", was released December 1 and at the time of original writing of this list, I hadn't heard much of it. That changed quickly recently. "While We Serve" - the song and video- skyrocketed my respect for Orbit Culture, both in capturing the tenor of the present moment and the imagery of this world circus at brutal war. 

2

Code Orange The Above

In a year without Sleep Token, "The Above" would be my #1 album of 2023. This is Code Orange's best, most mature, and most engaging album in their history. On their first album that I heard from them ("Forever"), there is a song entitled "dream2", which is an atmospheric, moody, mostly electronic trip featuring guitarist/bassist/vocalist Reba Meyers. "The Above" feels like a spiritual extension of that song in full album format. The vinyl album is a chaotic, compelling landscape of memories and snapshots featuring a meticulously-designed booklet. The album features Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins, and after many spins of the album, I think the "The Above" has a very Pumpkins feel to it. "Underneath" was my #2 album of 2020, and this album is far superior to their previous work. Powerful progress to go from Underneath to Above in 2 albums, but Code Orange lands the artistic gymnastics well.

1

Picture of the band Sleep Token taken by Artemis Sere

Sleep Token Take Me Back to Eden

If you've followed my social accounts, you know how much I loved this album in 2023. Upon discovering them earlier in 2023 with the song "Granite", I fell instantly in love with their sound, style, and concept. They are a unique intersection of darkness and light, metal and electronic, clean singing and death metal screeches, mystery and royalty. I've been a fan of masked bands ever since High School with Crimson Glory, and their aesthetic is very familiar to me. This was my undisputed favorite album and live show of 2023, and I deeply treasure every song on this album (except one - I'll let you guess which one, if you know the album). You can find clips of their live show on my YouTube Channel, and in the Annual Best albums playlist below. I've featured my video capture below of their hit "Granite" from their show in September 2023. According to YouTube, the songs off this album were the tracks I listened to most in 2023 - and with good reason: their dynamic talent can cover many different genres in a single song, while marrying them together in a macabre and thrilling manner. I will be listening to this album on repeat for a very long time.

2023 Honorable Mentions

I had a long list of albums to choose from for my 2023 list. Here are ones that were considered, but not chosen for the top 20. They may make it there someday. 

Old Gods of Asgard - "Rebirth"
Mojave Phone Booth - "Hollow the Numbers" (Re-release of 2022 album on new label)
Pendulum - "Anima" (EP)
Godflesh - "Purge"
Mammoth WVH - "Mammoth II"
Evile - "The Unknown"
In Flames - "Forgone"
Duran Duran - "Danse Macabre"
Better Than Ezra - "Contact High"
Cavalera Conspiracy - "Go Ahead and Die"

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2023 YouTube Playlist

Previous Annual Best Album Blogs

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 
2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 
2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022

Ten Lessons from My First Year of Collecting Vinyl Records

Artemis Sere Vinyl Album Collection

In 2022 I began collecting vinyl albums. It has since become an obsession, and I've purchased over 200 records in the last year from a variety of sources - Discogs, Amazon, Merchbar, Revolver, and Poshmark, to name a few.

My first year of collecting records had highs and lows, wows and learnings. I spent way too much money, but thoroughly enjoyed my music journey. I've been greatly influenced by the meticulous art poured into the vinyl experience. The price of vinyl collecting is high these days, but the market is vast and wide. Most of the albums you want are available somewhere - for a price, depending on quality and location and legitimacy of vendor.

If I had this list of learnings before I started collecting records last year, I think I would have had an easier time finding what I wanted, and understanding what was worth the stress, risk, and cost. I probably would've slowed down my purchasing roll and kept my collection addiction in check.

Oh, you weren't aware that I have a music addiction? Well, check out my Top20 albums that I publish every year. These lists come from listening to a broad amount of music every year. I know we all do; I do my best to catalog what I like and report about it. I come back to these lists often to remind myself of what I really enjoyed that year, and to revise as I find new music.

My collecting started with CDs - a collection that grew far too cumbersome in time. I transferred that collection to digital and now have close to 300 GB worth of digital music. Digital keeps me company when I'm out and about, but there's something truly magic about the vinyl record experience.

There's a rush to opening a brand new vinyl album, spinning it for the first time, and hearing it loudly and proudly crackle across my speakers. There's a vibe to it I don't get while listening to digital or CD. The music seems more alive, awake, and present - imperfect with its static and needlepoint access, but seemingly more complete and whole.

I try to purchase every album in my annual Top 20 now. It's important to me to own the 20 albums every year that I would consider my favorite of that time, rather than having a mass of random vinyl that may end up in the trash heap.

Speaking of heap, I inherited my parent's vinyl collection this year. Hundreds of worn albums from 1950-1980. A wide variety of styles from Led Zeppelin to The Carpenters to Ray Charles. The experience of spinning vinyl has come a long way in 80 years, and it's nostalgic to trek back in time with some of the records of their collection.

Some records will be added to my collection. Some will be surrendered to secondhand stores. Some may eventually end up in that dreaded heap.

I'll do my best to take good care of the treasures that I'm collecting, just as I'm maintaining the trove of art that I've amassed. I hope these suggestions help you maintain your collection. Color me curator.

Here are my lessons from the last year of collecting vinyl records. This isn't a sales blog, but it will have some external vendor links and recommendations that may help your vinyl collection journey. 

Happy #vinylcollecting! 

TEN VINYL COLLECTION LEARNINGS

1. Take Care of your Investments

Spend the extra money for quality vinyl maintenance tools and products - sleeve covers, vinyl baths, anti-static cloths, and fresh needles for your player. All of the accessories help you maintain a quality vinyl album experience - for you as a collector and for the next purchaser of your album (should there be one).

2. Handle With Care

I've learned that vinyls appreciate in time due to supply and demand. Supply for certain vinyl records is very low, so prices can be alarming for a single collectors record. With that in mind, you must take care of your purchases. They scratch and wear easily. Not only the vinyls, but the covers. I will write a separate blog on my handling recommendations, but observe careful handling of all records and covers, even using gloves if possible and cleaning your record before and after every use.

3. Invest in a Quality Record Player

I started with the brand Victrola, but switched over to Angels Horn. I love the sound and style of the player. I'm still figuring out to rip to digital. A work in progress. See shots of the players in the photo album below.

4. Use Discogs to Track your Vinyl Inventory

Discogs is a website and app that real vinyl collectors use. It's comparable to IMDB for music releases - part commerce site, part library of music, release, and artist details. It has global reach and a vault of accurate details about releases. It has technology built in for connection with a music community. It is the anchor site for my collection and tracks the value of my collection to the dollar. While I use it mostly for vinyl, it also tracks various music formats (digital and CD) and operates perfectly as a cross-format inventory system for your music. While there are many applications to help you manage your inventory and provide commerce to help you purchase what you're looking for, Discogs pulls it all together nicely. And creates Community around it. Friend up with artemissere on Discogs to see what I'm collecting and watching.

5. Order from Trusted Vendors

If you find an offer on the internet for a vinyl record you're hunting for, or see an offer too good to be true pop up through social (programmatic advertising is very clever these days), validate it with sources like Discogs or Amazon.  And..

6. Beware the Backorder

Sites like Merchbar will take your coin for a Pre-Order of a vinyl release -- without having actual access to stock of it and with a delivery date that is completely fluid. Yes, they'll give you a delivery date, but that will move based on source availability. I ordered Poe's album "Haunted" on Merchbar in October 2022 and was still waiting for delivery of it in October 2023. This month, Tower Records made it available; I quickly canceled my order with Merchbar and grabbed it from Tower. I'll never trust Merchbar for a "Pre-order" again.

7. Research the Vinyl Version you're Purchasing/Collecting

Albums are pressed by various merchandisers and labels. I purchased my first copy of the The Haunted's "The Dead Eye" on Discogs. When I received the album I was surprised that it lacked some album art that was on the CD. So, I ordered another copy from Amazon, and that copy had images and layout like the original CD. For some reason, the Backbite label reformatted some of the album art, dropping some of the great details of the original CD, and pressed as their own version. On Discogs, there are many versions of each vinyl album, and the experience can vary by country, by year, and by label. Know what you're purchasing before you do. I now have two slightly different versions of the same album.

8. Stick with In-country or Local Purchases (if you can help it)

Ordering a collector's vinyl record from another country can be expensive for shipping and handling, and the experience can involve questionable packaging. The process of shipping can also cause damage to the shipping container, which can damage the external cover. Most international vendors will refund your money if you have a strong enough case, but if it's the only copy they have, you end up with a compromised version and/or a requirement to ship it back. Additionally, sellers offer their products on multiple sites - not a big deal for in-country purchases, but seriously annoying if it's an out of country purchase with a vendor whose stock ran out and has to offer you a refund. A recent purchase with a UK seller who had a listing in Discogs for a vintage WASP record ended up refunded after 5 days because their stock was sold on another site. I had to contact the seller myself after not hearing from them for close to a week post-purchase. This "selling product somewhere else" detail was in their listing, but you don't know if the album is available until you don't hear from the seller for 5 days. Given that international shipments take much longer than domestic, it's frustrating to wait 5 days to know whether or not you actually got what you paid for.

9. Return Damaged or Incorrect Product

Probably a no-brainer, but don't eat your vendor's error. Somehow, Amazon managed to send me two incorrect vinyls in packages marked as the product that I ordered. Somewhere on the fulfillment belt, someone dropped the wrong record into the package that was clearly labeled for my order. Given the automation around Amazon fulfillment processes, it's amazing this could happen, but it does, because humans are imperfect and make mistakes.

10. Invest in the Exclusives

Some of the coolest experiences I've had in the last year involve the artistic detail of vinyl albums. I grew up in the 80s, so I remember when new cassette tapes were the rage. And then collector CDs with boxed sets and beautiful booklets. But the current wave with music on vinyl is creating some of the best artistic experiences of the last decade. In 2022, the vinyl album art of Spiritbox's "Eternal Blue" and Machine Head's "Of Kingdom and Crown" blew me away. This year, I've been blown away by Code Orange's "The Above" and Sleep Token's "Take Me Back to Eden". But watch your budget - not every vinyl is urgent and worth it.

Extra Credit

1. Beware of poor product runs. I purchased Chimaira's picture disc album "The Infection" over Discogs this year from a company. Turns out that the insert card melted to the front side of the disc from poor packaging and storage over the last decade. One side of the disc was unplayable. I decided to keep the album to support the small business vendor on Discogs. I ordered another two copies from sellers on Amazon and discovered similar results.

2. Join the Vinyl Collector Community! I have met some amazing people through sharing my vinyl journey on Facebook and Instagram, including some super friends like @doomedteacher. A school teacher from Florida, he has constantly surprised me with his album collection and likes. He's even become a pen pal of mine. I recommended you give him a follow, and take a look at all of the rest of the great music being shared on the #vinylcollector hashtag.

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Music Albums of 2022

Artemis Sere's Best Albums of 2022 - Zeal & Ardor

This list is not genre or market specific. This list reflects the diversity of my interests. This list is not based on listening to any radio, podcasts, or influencer pundits. My appreciation for music is relatively broad, but you'll find a heavier edge to recent lists - reflective of the seasons of my life.

This list is my 12th attempt to catalog, track, and recommend the best music of the previous year.  If you're interested in what I've ranked in previous years, check out this page where all years are available.

This year was the most difficult year of compiling this list since I started. Not because I lacked entries to this list, but because 2022 featured more great music than I have space for. However, I did cut the list off at 20, and you can see my "Honorable Mentions" at the end of this blog.

Two themes dominated my 2022: my first year as a vinyl collector, and exploration into new artists. I have purchased vinyls for most of the albums on this list (for albums that have vinyls available) and am greatly impressed by the art and artistry that is put into the format. With respect to the newly discovered artists, I gave them priority in this list over many age-old, popular bands that put out albums this year (eg. Slipknot, Rammstein, Ghost). I find the new sounds exhilarating and fresh, and hope you do too.

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, and pay forward these suggestions of high quality, relatively underrated music and musicians. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, linked at the end of this list. 

And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2022?

I appreciate your interest in my Art and music opinion. Enjoy!

NOTE: I reserve the right to revise this list as necessary. I know I've probably missed some great albums in 2022, and will be sure to update this list to accommodate those next year - as I have done and will do with lists from previous years. Check back for updates!

#yearofSerein

20

BILLY HOWERDEL
What Normal Was

I was a big fan of Howerdel's Ashes Divide project, and you can hear the echoes of that great album in the lines and tones of "What Normal Was". 

19

AUTHOR & PUNISHER
Krüller

Author & Punisher is a one-man, industrial doom metal machine that cranks out atmospheric and apocalyptic jams. The album could work as an Industrial B-side for Tool, with its experimental sound, gritty mechanics and darkly dreamed soundscape. The album features Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor (both from Tool) and Perturbator. Musician Tristan Shone created his own "dub" and "drone" instruments, and the album reflects the best of Godflesh and Tool mixed with NIN.

18

TOXIK
Dis Morta

I've been listening to Toxik since I was in High School, and while I don't have as much appreciation for speed metal as I once did, this is a great album by the venerable metalheads. The title track reminds of "World Circus" while adding a mature vibe and doom power.  Josh Christian and band can still scream and slay.

17

WHITE WARD
False Light

White Ward is always a sonic adventure. Doom/black metal with saxophones and other compelling instruments, I've been a fan of this talented band out of Ukraine since discovering their "Futility Report" album. As I've grown older, I tend to gravitate toward vocals that are a bit more harmonic and less guttural, but White Ward represents the pain of their homeland perfectly with "False Light". Even though this album didn't rank high on my list, I deeply appreciate it in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the amazing feat this band had to go through just to finish and release this album. In the end, I'm drawn to the balance of glorious guitars and saxophone, a sonic dance that creates a serious sense of gloom. The cover and vinyl insert contain shots from Ukraine, and it breaks my heart to consider what this strong people are enduring at the hands of Russia. #IStandWithUkraine

16

BLEED FROM WITHIN
Shrine

Hailing from Scotland, Bleed From Within is a metalcore band that sounds like a European companion to Parkway Drive with excellent vocals and melodies, superb riffs and endless power. "Shrine" is a great album and would rank higher on my list in a year that didn't feature so many great entries.

15

PARWAY DRIVE
Darker Still

Their last album, "Reverence", was my #2 album of 2018, beaten out by an overwhelmingly awesome Rabbit Junk album. In 2022, the situation is pretty much the same, only both bands failed to crack my Top 10. Every artist is judged on his/her last effort, and if "Darker Still" is compared to "Reverence", I see very little difference in sound, tempo and content from the last album. Consistency is certainly a good thing, but "Darker Still" doesn't sound fresh - but it does sound good enough to be in my Top 20, just not different enough to stand out.

14

HOLY WARS
EAT IT UP, SPIT IT OUT

This two-piece from Los Angeles almost stole the show from Night Club when I saw them at First Avenue's Entry earlier this year. I had no clue who they were at the time, but "EAT IT UP, SPIT IT OUT" became one of my most played albums of 2022, with "Little Godz" in my regular rotation. Fronted by the multi-talented Kat Leon, this band may not be on many radars right now, but is one you should watch out for. Ultimately, sounds and looks similar to K. Flay with a bit of a heavier edge and affinity for the camera.

13

LAMB OF GOD
Omens

Lamb of God channels angry like no other. Metalcore with solid vocals and guitars that slay, Lamb of God never ceases to impress. "Omens" is a great addition to the Lamb of God catalog, but like Parkway Drive, doesn't differentiate well. Across the album, I hear the echoes of "Sacrament" - and as I said with Parkway Drive, consistency isn't a bad thing. "Omens" grinds and slams well, and if you're looking for a soundtrack to your aggression, look no further.

12

CANNONS
Fever Dream

 And now for a change of pace. Sometimes I need those. We all do. My list this year is dotted with escapes from the loud cacophony of our brutal lives. Maybe it's me getting older. Maybe it's needing alternate influences to counter my high blood pressure. This band is a new-ish discovery and I expect that I will spend more time listening to them for chill and inspiration. Their dreamy approach is a welcome respite to the hustle and bang of our brutal world. They're considered indie "dream-pop" and their style and swing resonates well with the need for less speed.

11

RABBIT JUNK
Apocalypse for Beginners

I've been a fan of Rabbit Junk for fifteen years now. I've seen them evolve from a relatively-unkonwn rough-and-tumble hardclash band to a well-polished electronic outfit with a sizeable following. JP Anderson and Sum Grrrl continue to anchor their style and sound, with collaborators like Amelia Arsenic and Cyanotic. Their newest release has the grit and edge that I expect from Rabbit Junk, only it feels a bit too overproduced. I long for the rugged days of "Orange Laces" and "Iso Vs. Life", where their album covers were less perfect and their sound lacked the prettiness it exudes now. That may sound like a criticism, but it's not - Rabbit Junk is one of the best electronic acts on the market right now that more people need to know about. Compared to my opinion on their last album "Meditations on Mortality: Rabbit Junk Will Die", "Apocalypse" is a solid effort and worthy of much praise, but doesn't stack up against some of their best works.

10

CARPENTER BRUT
Leather Terror

A newcomer to my orbit, Carpenter Brut has been a breath of fresh air. One of a couple of bands on my list that built their records off of collaborations with other artists, Brut is a one-man band from France, considered darksynth or dark electronics, mixing horror themes and sounds to create a horror atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, "(Leather Terror) is a continuation of the Leather Teeth trilogy and involves a story of "a character who wants to take revenge on the cheerleader who’s been making fun of him 'serial killer style'." The album features collaborations with Greg from The Dillinger Escape Plan, Gunship, among others.

9

NOVA TWINS
Supernova

It's hard not to love these two lifelong friends from England that united to form a powerful urban punk duo. Gorgeously diverse and unapologetically sarcastic, angry and edgy. "Supernova" is an endless jam of  great vocals, superb content, and punky guitars. From "Cleopatra" to "Antagonist", their attitude, presence and power is undeniable. They truly are super in many ways and are one of my favorite finds of 2022.

8

HEALTH
Disco4: Part II

Another one of my favorite finds of 2022 was the band Health. For a band whose name was derived intentionally as an "everyday word", they are strikingly unique with a mesmerizing sound and brilliant balance of electronics and guitars. Listening to the amazingness of "Disco4: Part II" drove me to explore their catalog further, and appreciate the immense greatness that they've produced even before this album. Featuring collaborations with NIN, Poppy, Lamb of God, The Neighbourhood, and Perturbator, "Part II" is a melancholic and hypnotic ride, often brilliant and often exquisite.

7

I PREVAIL
True Power

This metalcore act from Michigan can crank out some serious power. Their concept isn't original - heavy tunes with two vocalists, one clean and one growly, much like Linkin Park once perfected. More electronic and diverse than Parkway Drive, and with a sound similar to Bad Omens, I Prevail is thunderous and huge, while slinging axes and blasting bad ass beats. "Body Bag" will tell you all you need to know about them, and I Prevail is able to continue that attitude for one truly powerful, boomtastic album. 

"All hail the king of nothing."

6

MOJAVE PHONE BOOTH
Hollow The Numbers + Kill the Messenger EP

Their self-titled album was one of my favorites of 2016, and this album was one of my favorite of 2022. The creative evolution of Tobey Torres Doran (Snake River Conspiracy) and Mitch Doran (Snake River Conspiracy, Queensryche  "Mindcrime 2") has been inspiring and amazing to watch, and this album is an adventurous soundscape of mystery and industrial, 80s gothy style. As a whole, the vocal interplay between Tobey and Mitch is fun, highlighting the high level of talent this band possesses across the board. Drums by Lynn Farmer from Meat Beat Manifesto round out their amazing sound. Both the new album and previous EP are layered with superb guitars and soulful vocals, mixed with vocal samples and great electronic atmosphere (and even features Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers). "Graveyard Tapes" is an exquisite and hypnotic exploration into the spooky minds of the band, while "Kill the Messenger" was one of my most listened to songs of 2022. Most of all, it is has been awesome to learn Tobey's story from the Snake River Conspiracy era and to witness her persistence, resilience and evolution with Mojave Phone Booth. From what I understand, the invigoration could even lead to new Snake River Conspiracy work. This is a band that deserves serious recognition for overcoming obstacles and producing some of the greatest work in their careers.

5

STABBING WESTWARD
Chasing Ghosts

Speaking of yesteryear bands returning to produce some of the best work, Stabbing Westward's "Chasing Ghosts" is a phenomenal and confident album that was one of my favorite vinyls of 2022. This album isn't the strongest in my top ten musically, but from cover to concept, it is macabre and amazing. The cover and other album art is genius and darkly wonderful. Musically, it is great to hear the sound of Stabbing Westward again. I was a fan of Hall's side project, The Dreaming, but this album is where he belongs. Stabbing Westward has been a fave since 1996's "Wither Blister Burn & Peel", so it's difficult to measure "Chasing Ghosts" across their great releases, but it certainly stood out as one of my favorites of 2022.

4

MACHINE HEAD
Of Kingdom and Crown

I didn't intentionally group "Kingdom"-related concept albums next to each other. However, two of my favorite albums of have strong themes around Kings and kingdoms (incidentally, even I Prevail has a great song called "Long Live the King"), with "Of Kingdom and Crown" revolving around two characters named Ares and Eros that go through troubles. "No Gods, No Masters" will forever be one of my favorite Machine Head songs, while the rest of the album is filled with power and dark glory. Extra props for superbly macabre album art and an exquisite vinyl package and presentation. Rob Flynn's voice shows no signs of fading, and Machine Head continues to be one of the most relentless and inventive bands in metal today. 

3

ALTER BRIDGE
Pawns & Kings

Alter Bridge has been a favorite since the dissolution of Creed. Over the years, they've had albums that have dotted these lists, but "Pawns & Kings" has ranked the highest of them all so far. The songwriting on "Pawns & Kings" is amazingly tight and the storytelling on the album is spectacular. Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti are an amazing duo, complementing each other's talent. It helps that they - combined with Phillips and Marshall, also from Creed - are four of the best musicians in rock right now. Songs like "This Is War", "Holiday", "Sliver Tongue", "Fable of the Silent Son",  "Season of Promise", and "Pawns & Kings" hint of a larger story of class warfare,  almost medieval in tone. Many props to Mark's brother Dan for exceptional album art. Look forward to seeing this band in February with Red.

2

BAD OMENS
The Death of Peace of Mind

"The Death of Peace of Mind" was my most listened to album of 2022, and their live show was one of my favorite this year (despite serious issues with the venue). They are an amazingly eclectic and polished electro-rock band that features the perfect mix of vocals and creative vision.  Each of the videos that they've released are atmospheric and amazing, showcasing endless range of this talented band.

Favorites "The Grey", "The Death of Peace of Mind", "Like a Villain", and "Artificial Suicide" were on constant rotation on my record player, and the electronics pop with life and energy.

The album doesn't have a weak spot, doesn't have a song that I would point to as a flaw or fail. It is an soulful, raw, edgy and beautiful ride from start to finish, punctuated by what is probably my favorite song of 2022, "The Death of Peace of Mind", an epic of romantic and gloomy proportions with a corresponding video that is wonderfully haunting and gorgeous cinema.

1

ZEAL & ARDOR
(self-titled)

To be honest, it was difficult for me to choose between Bad Omen's wonderful new album and this one. I listened to the Bad Omens album more. I saw both bands live. I loved the live sound of both shows. Ultimately, it comes down to this: the influence of the past on their present. Bad Omens show was tightly performed and very entertaining, but too many songs were too Biblically preachy, a reflection on popular work from previous albums. 

Zeal & Ardor's set of tunes that supported the great songs like "Run", "Golden Liar", and "Gotterdammerung", were black metal influenced slave tunes, like "Don't You Dare", "Row Row", and "Gravedigger's Chant". I've read that Bad Omens wishes that their recent release is what the public knows them best by, as if the success of this album reflects who they are, not who they were.

I've never heard Manuel Gagneux Iament about his content and the amazing voice he has channeled out of black history and reality. There's a hardcore honesty with every Zeal & Ardor song, and as an atheist and humanist, I probably appreciate that more highly than most.

I stand by Zeal & Ardor's self-titled as my favorite for 2022, and am excited to have been introduced to them. From "Stranger Fruit" to "Wake of the Nation" to their self-title, Zeal & Ardor have an awesome trajectory and creative fire.  

2022 Honorable Mentions

I had a long list of albums to choose from for my 2022 list. Here are ones that were considered, but not chosen for the top 20. They may make it there someday. 

Conjure One - Innovation Zero
Sabaton – The War To End All Wars
Ghost – Impera
Rammstein – Zeit
Amorphis – Halo
Meshuggah – Immutable
Anthrax - XL
Megadeth - The Sick, The Dying ....and the Dead!
Disturbed - Divisive

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2022
YouTube Playlist

Other Annual Best Album Blogs

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 
2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 
2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021

Seretic Studios